Japan nationalized [ja] the Senkaku Islands (note: China refers to them as Daiyo Islands) on September 11, 2012, setting off anti-Japan protests in China. Those protests and the subsequent reactions from Japanese Internet users were covered in our previous post [ja].
Official ties between both countries are still at an impasse as of late October. While both governments are struggling to improve relations, some success has been seen among civil society.
Mo Yan's win is a signal that Japan-China relations are mending
Chinese author Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Japanese author Haruki Murakami had been regarded as a likely winner, but for the literature prize that was said to be “the Japan and China confrontation”, the result came as a win for China. The Chinese people are pleased, but this selection is an interesting development.
The liberals in China are said to be critical of Mr. Mo Yan, but this is unavoidable under the Communist Party system. The authorities oppressed Mr. Liu Xiaobo and his speech activities, Mr.Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago in 2010. So we know there's no room for criticizing the system unless you come up with something really creative.
I sense in choosing Mo Yan for the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Nobel selection committee took this occasion to mend the relationship of Japan and China. Mr. Mo Yan is known to be pro-Japan. If Mr. Murakami had won the prize, the relationship of the two countries would have likely deteriorated, especially after Shinya Yamanaka‘s Nobel win. The Nobel Prize is always backed by a political motive.
According to the post, it was a civil movement in Japan that pushed Mr. Mo Yan to make a call for a petition [zh] to rationalize views on relations.
The movement was organized by citizen groups under the slogan “Stop Vicious Cycle of Territorial Dispute.” According to the group [ja] 1600 people including the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature recipient author Kenzaburo Oe showed support.
On the website for the movement, it says international solidarity and action including that of Mr.Mo Yan is “significant” and “civil actions seeking peace and co-living transcending borders are quite significant.”
While anti-Japan protests expanded, the blogger Yokodo-shujin [ja] wrote constantly for a month about his concern with deteriorating Japan-China relations.
On September 17, he wrote a post titled “the essence of rioting in an anti-Japan protest is a struggle for power” [ja]. On September 18 he wrote, “most Chinese see the U.S. pulling strings from behind” [ja] and suggested who was profiting from the dispute. And the following day, he wrote “citizens of both countries are used and abused” [ja] taking precaution to the heat. He continues to write his own thoughts on his blog.
This proposal is very constructive. Both Japan and Chinese government should listen to the voices of citizens of conscience.
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People who signed the petition in their real name are very courageous. People like Cui Weiping represent the good heart of China. We Japanese should work together with these people to flourish together.
The seeds of dialogue continues to grow in both countries.
This post features Yokodo-shujin blog with permission.